by Danny Brewer

The Clark is no doubt one of the top races in the sport of Thoroughbred racing. A grade 1 event worth $500,000, this mile and an eighth run over the main track has been the centerpiece of the Churchill Downs Fall meet for 146 years. Featuring some of the best classic distance runners, this has long been a showcase for the sport of kings. In recent years it has been a great spot after the Breeders’ Cup for top talent. This year is no different. In fact, a field of fourteen means the starting gates will be as loaded as that plate you made at Aunt Wilma Jean’s house on Turkey day. Let’s take a look at the prospective field and decide who is the ham and turkey and who might be the show-stopping green bean casserole. Get an extra-big plate and don’t forget the buttermilk pie!

1 Craft Daddy-Trained by Kenny McPeek, this son of Scat Daddy has Brian Hernandez Jr. in the irons. Having run mostly on the grass, his last start was a win over the Downs dirt. We say he’s like some sweet potato pie- attractive to some but not on our plate.

2 Title Ready- Son of More Than Ready has run a lot in Stakes company but hasn’t gotten there. Was 7th last out in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Trainer Dallas Stewart has a way of making stuff happen. Like the cornbread dressing, you need a little for your exotic wagers because he could kick’em up.

3 Code of  Honor- This Shug McGauhey trainee is supposed to be the honey baked ham. His last 11 starts have been in graded stakes company and his Travers triumph a year ago was delectable. Got to have him on the plate in all your exotics.

4 Multiplier- Trainer Peter Miller says there are 500,000 reasons to start his veteran here. No wins this year and only 3 in 31 lifetime starts may cause you to ask why, but a fourth place finish in the Stephen Foster back in June says he could make the superfecta pay big. Like some honey roasted carrots, you may want a little on your plate.

5 Aurelius Maximus- Two wins and a second in three starts this year coupled with all-time Churchill leading trainer Steve Asmussen means this son of Pioneerof the Nile might be like the fudge pie. Something you need to leave room for because with the other dishes, may be forgotten by some but tasty as can be.

6 Plus Que Parfait-Winless in six starts this year, this well-traveled son of  Point of Entry may be the Jello dish with the marsh mellows in it. Not many people trying and most of it left on the table.

7 Mr Freeze-Here is the white bread stuffing your granny makes. An absolute must because it is sooo tasty. Winner of the Fayette two starts back and an Ack-Ack triumph in 2019 sandwiched around some other prime time efforts means this Dale Romans trained son of To Honor and Serve will be all over our plate.

8 Bodeexpress-Always thought to be talented, this son of Bodemeister has only found the winner’s circle 3 times in 16 starts. Like the corn soufflé, you want some on your plate because he has been in the top three 10 times, just don’t take up too much room as there are other potentially more tasty treats.

9 Owendale-Having finished second in this race in 2019, this son of Into Mischief is conditioned by one of the hottest chefs in the kitchen. Brad Cox has been cooking up some fabulous things of late and he might just get a grade 1 here with some green bean casserole.

10 Bourbon Calling- Let’s get real for a second. There is usually something that’s not on the table, but most of the men are searching for so they can hang with the relatives. Ian Wilkes trained and in the money in half his starts this year, he might be the brown bag for a celebratory superfecta.

11 Coastal Defense- With all eight of his career starts coming this year, this four-year old son of Curlin has only raced in stakes company once. Can trainer Dale Romans make an unlikely starter into some broccoli cheesey rice casserole that everybody wants some of?…Dale has won a whole bunch at Churchill and set off bombs before.

12 By My Standards- The star of the show at our feast has long been the Fried Turkey and that’s where this son of Goldencents comes in. Trainer Bret Calhoun has guided this fabulous four-year old to 4 wins and 2 seconds in 7 starts this year. A nice win in the Alysheba at Churchill on September 4 means he smells like that wonderful deep fried goodness.

13 Phantom Currency-A winner of a turf switched to dirt race in his last start means trainer Brian Lynch wants to roll the dice. Also a son of Goldencents, this four-year old has 3 wins in 11 career tries but is the cranberry sauce. A dish that’s there but nobody really wants.

14 Silver Prospector-The lone three year old in the race, this Steve Asmussen trained son of Declaration of War might be our buttermilk pie. Early in the year he looked like a player on the Triple Crown trail but a 7th place finish in the Arkansas Derby squelched that. Two wins and a third in three lifetime starts at Churchill means you better make space on your platter.

The Clark is the 10th race on an 11 race card that is to be run beneath the twin spires on November 27. Prospective post time is 5:27 eastern.